Grenfell Tower disaster: Son’s relief after blind father pictured waving for help rescued from inferno


ITV Report

20 June 2017 at 9:51am

A man whose blind father was pictured frantically waving for help from the burning Grenfell Tower on live television coverage of the disaster has spoken of his “relief” after he was rescued from the inferno.

Gordon Bonifacio said he had “already said his goodbyes” to his father Elpie, who had told him over the phone that “the fire was here”.

Mr Bonifacio, who had lived in the tower block since 1981, was alone in the flat as his wife was at work.

His desperate plea for help, as smoke billowed from his windows, was documented on ITV’s Good Morning Britain coverage of the fire after live pictures from the scene captured him seeking the attention of firefighters.

Elpie Bonifacio was filmed live on TV waving for help from the window of his Grenfell Tower flat. Credit: ITV / Good Morning Britain

He was eventually rescued from his 11th floor flat after a 12-hour ordeal.

Speaking on Good Morning Britian almost a week on from the disaster, Gordon said: “We woke him up (and) said there there was a fire. He could smell the smoke. We told him to try and get out but he couldn’t because he said the door was too hot.

“Before the images were shown we had kind of given up. On the phone he had already said his goodbyes, he said the fire was here, these were his last words.

“I was on the phone to him, my wife was on the phone as well, my brother. We were all distraught, panicking. And then the phone lines cut out.

“That’s the point where you kind of lose hope and I’d started searching the shelters around just in case.”

Elpie was trapped in his 11th floor flat for hours. Credit: ITV / Good Morning Britain

But some time later, Elpie’s family was given a glimmer of hope.

“It might have been an hour and a half later and all of a sudden my phone went crazy again,” said Gordon.

“It was everyone getting in touch who were at home watching the images saying ‘this is him, this is him’.”

Gordon couldn’t be sure that his father was safe as he was nowhere near a TV to see for himself, so he took the images on his phone to one of the policemen nearby who got on the radio to the fire brigade.

He said: “They took details, his name, the flat number, the floor, my wife was doing exactly the same thing with the fire brigade on the phone from where she was, and we just had to wait and see.”

“We weren’t 100% sure until much, much later when we saw him at the hospital.”

The moment Elpie was carried away by rescuers. Credit: ITV / Good Morning Britain

Speaking of the moment he was reunited with his father, Gordon said: “It was such a relief.

“It was myself and mum, we were waiting in the hospital for confirmation that it was actually him. To see him out of there… he was in a bad way.

“At that point he was already in an induced coma because of the smoke inhalation to protect his lungs.”

After spending six nights in hospital, Gordon said his father Elpie is now “better”.

“He was taken off the ventilator on Saturday. He’s awake.

“We’ve spoken to him, he’s still quite incoherent, he’s very traumatised, there are points where he doesn’t know where he is.

“I’m not sure if he realises yet the full extent because he’s blind. So as far as he’s aware it might have just been a couple of floors.”

Recovering in hospital: Gordon said his father Elpie is now doing ‘better’. Credit: ITV / Good Morning Britain

Gordon added that his family were “always concerned” about fire safety but previous fires were always isolated to a particular flat.

“That was our family home,” he said. “We all grew up there. My father lived there for 36 years. We all moved in in 1981 and the tower was centre to the community.

“We were always concerned about fire safety, even back in the day. There have been other fires in Grenfell Tower in the past have been isolated to the flat that it was in.”

“Over the years there have been other fires. For it to spread this way is unbelievable.”

As far as Elpie’s future is concerned, Gordon said housing and social workers have spoken to the family to assess his father’s needs but they still don’t know where he will be rehoused.

“As far as permanent accommodation is concerned, we haven’t been told anything yet.

“We have spoken to the council, various departments on housing and social workers have spoken to us to assess his needs, but as far as permanent housing is concerned that hasn’t happened yet. We haven’t had much news.”

Last updated Tue 20 Jun 2017



Source : http://www.itv.com/news/2017-06-20/grenfell-tower-disaster-sons-relief-after-blind-father-pictured-waving-for-help-rescued-from-inferno/

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